Lowe Alpine Aleut Pull-On 80 [pounds sterling]
Shown here in Aquatonic -- a dark, petrol blue -- Lowe Alpine's Aleut Pull-On is something of a classic in the world of outdoor clothing. Made from Aleutian 375, a soft, extremely warm and relatively un-bulky fleece material that's also breathable, the Aleut is available in a wide range of colours.
Verdict: Ideal for alpinists and winter mountaineers, yet fashionable enough for urbanites. Great value, considering what it can do. Georating *****
Patagonia Marsupial 69.95 [pounds sterling]
Shown here in green, but also available in navy, light blue and black, Patagonia's Marsupial pullover is a well-cut, comfortable garment that really cuts the mustard when it comes to insulation. Made from the company's Lightweight Synchilla fabric -- which contains at least 90 per cent recycled plastic -- its non-gathered bottom eliminates the problem of `rollover bulk" often associated with gathered tops.
Verdict: Lightweight, non-bulky and very warm. Georating ****
Craghoppers Chute 70 [pounds sterling]
Part of Craghoppers' Adrenaline range, Chute is made from a textured boucle fleece, a mid-weight "performance" fabric with a glossy, high-tech appearance. The drop tail with nylon reinforcement, elbow patches and zipped pockets are practical features that add to its fashionable appearance. Also available in olive green.
Verdict: Looks and feels great, although a little bulky to wear with an outer shell. Georating ***
Craghoppers Cairn 70 [pounds sterling]
Easy-care and easy-wear is how Craghoppers describes the chunky Cairn pullover. Great for throwing on over indoor clothes and braving the elements, it's made from cosy and machine-washable Husky fleece. Cairn has a snug stand-up collar, zipped handwarmer pockets, and an adjustable shock cord hem for when it's really draughty. Shown here in indigo check, it's also available in "cappuccino" and, from this spring, in the zingiest of tomato reds.
Verdict: A stylish and extremely cosy coat-substitute. Georating ****
North Face Solitude Pullover 69.95 [pounds sterling]
A general purpose mid-weight fleece designed to provide warmth in cold, wet conditions. Made from Polartec Series 200 Fleece, the Solitude is as attractive as it is functional, particularly in this rich burnt orange colour. Useful features include an elasticated draw cord closure at the hem and nylon/Lycra cuff bindings. Also available in navy, cedar, black, poppy and deep ivy.
Verdict: An unbulky top that's ideal for wearing on its own or with a weatherproof shell jacket. Georating ****
Berghaus Corded Sweater 60 [pounds sterling]
It weighs next to nothing, but it's as warm as the chunkiest of woollen sweaters. Berghaus' Corded Sweater, made from a mid-weight corded fleece, is great as part of a layering system. It's also attractive and warm enough to be worn as an outer garment. Available in blue, brown, black or, as shown here, deerskin.
Verdict: Performance and fashion in one item. Georating ****
Tog 24 Baltimore 99.95 [pounds sterling]
Funky rather than chunky is the best way to describe this hooded pullover fleece from Tog 24. Made from Tog Tech fleece and fully-lined, the Baltimore is breathable and, thanks to the QX7 system, windproof.
Verdict: Sporty, windproof and roomy enough to wear over indoor clothes. Georating ***
Regatta Capricorn 50 [pounds sterling]
A chunky half-zip pullover in Sherpa fleece, an easy-care, anti-pill (anti-bobbling) polyester designed to wick moisture away from the body. Comfortable to wear, and very warm when worn with an outer shell, it features two zipped hand pockets and an adjustable shock cord hem. It has a high warmth-to-weight ratio and is available in sage (shown), rust and corn yellow.
Verdict: A warm, stylish and inexpensive fleece. Georating *****
Best of the rest: Karrimor, Barbour, Vango, Helly Hansen, Rohan, Snowsled and Sprayway also produce stylish and functional fleece tops in pullover and zipped-front versions. For the fashion-conscious try the styles on offer from Fat Face and Whitestuff, and for those on a budget check out some of the high street stores such as Marks & Spencer, Next and Gap.
Stockists: Berghaus 0191 415 0200; Craghoppers 0161 749 1300; Lowe Alpine 0800 801665; The North Face 07000 667843; Patagonia 00 800 0000 0041; Regatta 0161 749 1313; Tog 24 01924 409311.
* Tested products are given a "Georating" -- that's points out of five for overall performance, weight, bulkiness, appearance and comfort to wear.